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Fantasy Football: 2013 PPR Wide Receivers Tiers and Projections

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson

 

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson

Dec 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

*Accumulative points are not the basis of these rankings. Week to week consistency combined with uncertainty and anticipation of changes, for better or worse, were applied to the order of the tiers. Too often at this time of the summer, we are guilty of looking forward and back at the upcoming season and prior season’s stats in their entirety.

Tier 1

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Calvin Johnson

DET

9

99

1594

12

330.4

Megatron sits all alone on top of the roto receiving throne.  In his NFL record breaking season of 1,964 yards receiving, he was targeted ten or more times in 13 games, had 11 games with five or more receptions, and 11 games with one hundred plus yardage through the air.

On top of that, his five touchdowns only accounted for 8.8 percent of his total PPR scoring output,  the third lowest  percentage (behind Andre Johnson and Brian Hartline) among the top 50 scoring receivers.

Tier 2

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Dez Bryant

DAL

11

93

1339

11

292.9

Brandon Marshall

CHI

8

101

1293

11

296.3

A.J. Green

CIN

12

95

1396

10

296.7

I’ve already laid the details out on why I prefer to take Marshall as the second wide receiver overall, but my opinion has changed since June. All of the stars appeared to aligned for Bryant and all of the lights are on for him to follow his monster second half of 2012.

Bryant’s physical ability is unrivaled by any receiver other than Calvin Johnson. In the second half of last season, Bryant had a perfect storm of coming of age with that ability, being the healthier receiver and being part of an above average quarterback and offense attached to a miserable defense.

On a per play basis, Marshall was far more dominant that Johnson was last season, the Bears just weren’t as bad of a real football team as Detroit for this to reflect in the final fantasy rankings.

Marshall ranked 22nd in the league last season in routes run (546), running over six and a half games worth of fewer routes than Johnson (770) did. He led the league in targets per route (3.0), was second in receptions per route (4.6) and even outscored Johnson per target (1.9 to 1.7) last season. I also haven’t even mentioned that the Bears are going to be throwing the ball in bunches this season.

Read more about Sports Jerks Network fantasy football rankings…

QB Tiers / Projections

PPR Tight End Tiers/Projections

PPR Running Backs Tiers/Projections

C.D. Carter’s Standard Scoring Tiers

Green is arcing towards the career path of Larry Fitzgerald. In his sophomore season, Green increased his PPR production by 27 percent, averaging 6.1 receptions for 84.4 yards per contest. Eight of his 18 career touchdowns have come from over 30 yards out, showcasing his big play ability that compliments his polished ability to move the chains.

Tier 3

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Demaryius Thomas

DEN

9

87

1331

11

286.1

Julio Jones

ATL

6

81

1312

9

269.2

In his first season catching passes from a real quarterback — not Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton, in other words — Thomas saw his reception totals jump up to 5.9 catches per game after averaging 2.6 per game over his first two seasons.

When Peyton Manning was throwing the ball to Thomas, he posted a 126.2 QB rating, the best mark for a QB/WR combo last season.

Julio Jones is extremely overvalued by drafters so far this offseason (currently being selected 22nd overall on FantasyFootballCalculator) in PPR formats. That’s an awfully high price to pay for the 11th highest scoring receiver last season and a player that has yet to average over five receptions per game in his short career. The fact that he’s the No. 1 scoring threat in the passing game for Atlanta (18 TD in 27 games played) keep Julio amongst the young gifted stars in tier 3.

Tier 4

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Andre Johnson

HST

8

95

1311

6

262.1

Roddy White

ATL

6

90

1260

7

258

Larry Fitzgerald

ARZ

9

91

1228

7

255.8

Andre Johnson was able to play his first complete season since 2009. And when he actually plays, he’s a PPR stud. Over the past five seasons in which Johnson has played 13 or more games, he’s finished as WR11, WR1, WR1, WR7 and WR5 overall.

Reception leagues are his bread and butter because he’s never been heavily touchdown reliant, failing to reach double digit scores in any season of his career and has only 28 Red Zone targets over his past 36 games played.

Since 2007, White has averaged 94 receptions, 1,296 yards and eight scores per season. Over those six seasons, he’s finished ninth or higher in PPR scoring five times. He’s as rock solid of a WR1 in PPR as you can find, and currently has a spiffy ADP of 35 overall in reception leagues.

It’s been pretty well stated how horrible Fitz’s 2012 season was playing with the Arizona QB succubus quartet of Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, john Skelton and Brian Hoyer. For the first time since his rookie season he failed to reach 800 yards receiving and only 71 of his 146 targets (51 percent) last season were catchable. Cardinals signal callers had a league low 39.8 QB rating when throwing his way last season (next closest was Justin Blackmon at 64.9).

It wasn’t all a disaster however, in the five starts that Kolb made, he averaged 6 receptions, 73 yards and .6 touchdowns per. That’s promising as he gets a serviceable Carson Palmer at the helm this year, but his current price tag doesn’t leave you any wiggle room to exceed value.

Tier 5

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Victor Cruz

NYG

9

88

1189

8

254.9

Dwayne Bowe

KC

10

84

1168

8

248.8

Randall Cobb

GB

4

86

1092

8

250.8

Vincent Jackson

TB

5

72

1262

8

246.2

Cruz is the only player not named Calvin Johnson to finish in the top ten of receptions, yards and touchdowns over the past two seasons.  His production per catch slipped quite a bit in 2012 however, losing six yards per reception and 28 yards per game from his 2011 pace.

It might be a bit head scratching to place Bowe, a player who has averaged over five receptions per game only twice in his six season career, this high, but I’m a believer. The last time Andy Reid had a receiver of Bowe’s caliber was Terrell Owens. In the 21 games during the Reid-Owens marriage, T.O. averaged 6 catches for 94 yards and a score per game. While Bowe may not be Owens, falling shy of those numbers could still provide a career season for Bowe in PPR formats.

Not quite as gifted after the catch or as powerful as  Percy Harvin, Cobb plays a similar style to the former Viking. The difference being, Cobb scores touchdowns. He scored on one of every ten catches last season, and only two were from over 30 yards out. When the packers get near the goal line, they prefer to pass than run, trusting Aaron Rodgers than the myriad of mediocre runners they’ve had.

Even with Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin in the fold, expect Cobb to improve on his 80 receptions and still maintain close to ten scores.

In his first season in Tampa Bay, Jackson posted career highs in receptions (72), yards (1,384) and YPR (19.2). His inconsistency is a bit of a myth, as he only had five games in single digit scoring last season. Six of his 11 double digit performances went for over 20 points.

Tier 6

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Jordy Nelson

GB

4

72

1107

9

236.7

Marques Colston

NO

7

78

1086

8

234.6

Danny Amendola

NE

10

94

1052

5

229.2

Pierre Garcon

WAS

5

83

1095

6

228.5

Antonio Brown

PIT

5

86

1110

6

236.2

Hakeem Nicks

NYG

9

75

1095

7

226.5

Reggie Wayne

IND

8

86

1084

6

230.4

Playing through injury last season, Nelson still managed seven scores in 12 games and has scored in 17 of his past 28 games. When healthy, he still showcased his ability, torching Jonathan Joseph and the Texans for 120 yards and three scores in week 6.

Colston is always forgotten, but is a lock to finish as a high end WR2. He has reached 70 catches, 1,000 yards and seven TD’s in every season that he’s played at least 14 games in. In those same six seasons, he has an average PPR finish of WR13, with a low of WR16.

If you read C.D. Carter’s piece on Amendola, you’ll know that comparing him to Wes Welker is the wrong way to go about things. Amendola is in a prime position to post career highs across the board, if shows any type of chemistry with Tom Brady in the preseason, don’t hesitate to go all in for PPR leagues. Some will pause on him due to his reckless play, but he could easily be a top 12 receiver.

From one injury concern, to two others, Nicks has yet to play an entire season in his first four years in the league. While Garcon is battling an ongoing foot injury in which he elected to forego surgery on. When both play, they are top options though. Nicks has scored 27 TD’s in 55 career games.

Last season, Garcon led all receivers in points per route and was tied for eighth with Bryant in points per target.

The Steelers chose to give Brown an extension over Wallace last season after 1,100 yard 2011. In his first season as a regular starter, he wasn’t able to duplicate that yardage (his YPR dropped from 16.1 to 11.9 from ’11 to ’12) last season despite catching only three fewer passes.

There’s still a lot to like here. First, Wallace is gone, now off to Miami. Second, Brown increased his TD production from two to five and averaged a 5.1 catches per game despite missing three games.  Even if he doesn’t improve with Wallace leaving, he’s still an 80 catch, 1,000 yard player.

In his first season with Andrew Luck, Wayne posted (106/1355/5) nearly identical numbers to what he achieved in last season with Manning (111/1355/6). He was a crutch early for Luck, as he caught six or more passes in 10 of the Colts first 11 games. As Indy made their playoff push, going 4-1 over their final five games, Wayne wasn’t relied on at all. He had just 22 catches for 250 yards in those games and was held to under 65 yards in all but one.

Tier 7

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Cecil Shorts

JAX

9

79

1122

5

221.2

Wes Welker

DEN

9

84

942

7

220.2

Miles Austin

DAL

11

76

1081

6

220.1

Torrey Smith

BLT

8

64

1075

8

221

Mike Wallace

MIA

6

68

1122

7

222.2

Steve Smith

CAR

4

74

1095

6

221.5

Shorts played only an average of 28.5 percent of the Jaguars offensive snaps throughout their first five games.  Over his final nine games played, he played an average of 93 percent, scoring 17.2 points per over that time. He was reliant on the big play (five of his seven scores were from 39 yards out or greater), but with an offseason to grow into a more complete receiver, this may be the lowest opportunity to buy on him for years to come.

After tallying over 110 receptions in five of the past six seasons, Welker moves on from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another. While topping the century mark in catches is unlikely in Denver, the offense is more able to support all of its pass catchers as Manning has made nearly all of his slot receivers with less talent than Welker startable fantasy options in the past.

Austin is currently one the best bargains on the WR market (ADP WR36 in PPR) after making owners uneasy with his questionable hamstrings. Believe it or not, he still finished as WR24 last season in scoring, outscoring players in this tier (Smith and Wallace). Over the past three seasons, Austin has posted at least 13.5 yards per reception and has scored on 11% of his receptions.

Smith and Wallace are better standard scoring options due to their dependency on the big play for points. Per Pro Football Focus, in the past two years, Smith has been targeted on 80 passes thrown over 20 yards in the air.

That number is third behind only VJax (82) and Calvin (81), and his 10 (of his career 15 TD total) touchdowns on those attempts are second behind only Johnson’s 11. Even with the departure of Anquan Boldin, it’s hard to envision Smith transforming into a 80 catch player.

Nine of Wallace’s 16 scores over the past two seasons have come of a similar variety. Over his past 28 games, Wallace has gone over 100 yards receiving only three times. Over that same timeframe, he’s been held to less than five catches in 18 games, and under 60 receiving yards in 13.

In his first eight games playing with Cam Newton, Steve Smith posted a 46/918/4 line for an average of 5.75 receptions, 115 yards, .5 TD per game. In the 24 games since, he’s averaged 4.4 catches, 69 yards and .3 scores per contest, being held to four or fewer receptions in 12 of those 24 games.  The 34 year old is still the only real option in town, but expecting him to regain that initial magic with Newton may be too much to ask.

Tier 8

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

James Jones

GB

4

67

931

9

214.1

Eric Decker

DEN

9

72

951

7

209.1

Steve Johnson

BUF

12

71

978

6

204.8

Mike Williams

TB

5

65

923

7

199.3

Josh Gordon

CLV

10

59

923

6

187.3

James Jones detractors will point to his crazy touchdown dependency (37.1% in ’12) in a similar fashion of Nelson’s 2011. They aren’t worng, as it’s unlikely that Jones sees his numbers spikes reach mid-teens again, but it’s worth noting that all Packers receivers have exceeded their expected TD rates with Rodgers in command. With Greg Jennings all of the way out the door, Jones is still a solid buy as a WR3.

Speaking of touchdown rates, the player tied for the second highest percent of points coming from touchdowns in 2012, was Decker (29 percent).

Decker not only has to deal with end zone regression, but also the intrusion Welker will have on the 85 grabs he had last season.  Those catches already came in bunches, as he had 7 games with four or fewer receptions to go with six games of seven or more. Even though he won’t duplicate 2012, Manning is more than capable of supporting three top 30 wideouts.

Stevie Johnson has posted three consecutive seasons of 75 plus catches, 1,000 yards and six touchdowns through inconsistent quarterback play. You know what you’re drafting, regardless of who throws the ball in Buffalo.

The same can be said for Mike Williams, who has 65,65 and 63 catches over each of the past three seasons. His touchdown total normalized back near double digits and was actually targeted twice as much (10 to 5) as Jackson in the red zone over the final five weeks.

Gordon was surging into the middle rounds before his suspension. Treat that as the market correcting itself, allowing you to buy back in at a fair price. The two weeks he will miss come before any bye weeks, and he will still produce on a per game basis.

Tier 9

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

DeSean Jackson

PHI

12

64

910

4

189.4

Lance Moore

NO

7

69

856

6

190.6

Michael Floyd

ARZ

9

71

980

5

199

T.Y. Hilton

IND

8

63

887

6

189.4

Greg Jennings

MIN

5

75

848

6

195.8

Sidney Rice

SEA

12

61

885

7

191.5

Denarius Moore

OAK

7

63

914

6

190.4

All Moore has done over the past seasons is average 61 catches, 810 yards and seven scores per season. I anticpate his yardage to return to its norm, as his yards per catch jumped up to 16.0 last season after averaging 11.1 YPR over the five previous years.

I am fully endorsing the Floyd breakout campaign along with many others. With Palmer in town and Fitz drawing the elite defenders away, he could double the output form his rookie season.

Jackson is an interesting commodity with Chip Kelly in town and the injury to Jeremy Maclin. Jackson is more worth a look in standard leagues due to his ability to be involved in the running game, but he averages a pedestrian 3.9 catches per game over his career in a pass heavy offense.

Hilton will surely see his yards per reception drop in year two with the more conservative approach the Colts will have this year, but should improve on his rookie reception total.

Jennings has missed 11 games over the past two years and seen his yards per reception decrease over six whole yards since 2010. He moves away from Rodgers to play in an offense that rosters Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell. There’s a chance he can become a serviceable PPR possession type of player, but unless you’re in a point per Old Spice advertisement league, his value has taken a big time drop from his Packer days.

Britt and Blackmon are gambles worth taking, but come with a lot of off field baggage. I am wary of Blackmon, who will have to play himself back into game shape mid-season.  His 1.43 points per target were second worst in 2012, trailing only Fitzgerald.

Tier 10

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Tavon Austin

STL

11

71

789

4

185.9

Alshon Jeffery

CHI

8

61

921

5

183.1

Kendall Wright

TEN

8

73

854

4

182.4

Malcom Floyd

SD

8

60

882

6

184.2

Chris Givens

STL

11

59

926

5

181.6

Kenny Britt

TEN

8

62

813

6

179.3

Justin Blackmon

JAX

9

61

829

5

173.9

DeAndre Hopkins

HST

8

63

932

4

180.2

Vincent Brown

SD

8

63

851

5

178.1

Anquan Boldin

SF

9

55

748

6

165.8

Brian Hartline

MIA

6

68

930

2

173

Austin has an insanely high ADP right now (70 overall) for a player in a real logjam that likely won’t score many touchdowns. We know they are going to get him the ball, and in PPR he holds some value still. But at that cost, you almost have to let him walk when you can wait and take his teammate Givens. Givens averaged 12.6 point per game in the five games when Amendola was inactive.

Boldin hasn’t had 70 catches in a season since leaving Arizona; don’t look for that to change in San Francisco, despite the void that Michael Crabtree leaves available. Holmes was on his way to an 80 catch season before ending up on IR. Hartline topped 1,000 yards for the first time, but 16% of his catches and 23% of his yards came in week 4. He topped 100 yards only once more the rest of the season.

Since Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak have been together in Houston, the number two wideout has averaged 57 receptions per season and hasn’t topped 50 in each of the past two years. Hopkins should alter those numbers for the better long term, but 2013 will likely be a transition year in that change.

Hartline topped 1,000 yards for the first time, but 16% of his catches and 23% of his yards came in week 4. He topped 100 yards only once more the rest of the season.

Tier 11

PLAYER

TEAM

BYE

REC

YARDS

TD

PPR PTS

Ryan Broyles

DET

9

53

737

4

150.7

Rueben Randle

NYG

9

52

671

5

149.1

Jeremy Kerley

NYJ

10

67

864

3

171.4

Emmanuel Sanders

PIT

5

63

825

4

169.5

Golden Tate

SEA

12

51

740

6

161.8

Brandon LaFell

CAR

4

51

760

5

158.4

     Kenbrell Thompkins

NE

10

52

650

4

141

Greg Little

CLV

10

53

680

5

151

Andre Roberts

ARZ

9

54

661

4

145

Cordarelle Patterson

MIN

5

52

645

4

140.5

Robert Woods

BUF

12

49

701

4

143.1

Josh Morgan

WAS

5

51

605

4

135.5

Leonard Hankerson

WAS

5

41

606

5

131.6

There are a lot of attractive late round receivers every season, and this year is no exception. Broyles is still in a crowded situation to elevate him into WR3 status. Lafell and Roberts are unspectacularly boring, but useful on the right weeks. A lot of late round upside guys like Randle, Thompkins, Patterson and Woods could be late round lottery tickets.

 

*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com, NFL.com, ESPN

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